Photography has been a lifelong hobby for Stuart Phillips. He received his first instamatic camera at age 10 and quickly began taking photos on family vacations. Years later, with the development of digital photography, his interest in photography piqued. “Digital photography came along and that gave me a new lease of life,” he said.
This advancement in technology allowed Phillips the ability to take photos wherever and whenever he pleased and instantly view his work. “I was impressed by how much freedom it gives you,” explained Phillips.
His photo “Mycena Inclinata, Clustered Bonnet” has been chosen as the Wikimedia Commons Picture of The Day on 30 October 2012. Phillips was walking in the forest looking for fungi when he stopped for a rest and took the photo of a cluster of mushrooms. “It was only then I realized it could be a good shot, so I took a bit more trouble to get everything right,” he said. He attributes the picture’s soft hue to “some morning fog [that] had just lifted, which created a very soft, blue light.”
Phillips first contributed to Commons over three years ago. He began uploading his images in response to a Victoria and Albert Museum contest asking for photos of museum objects. Although he missed the main competition, he created a Commons account and started to upload his own work. Since then he has shared many images, including photos of invertebrates, monuments, buildings, and landscapes.
He first began to photograph fungi while gathering photos for the contest. “It was while photographing [monuments] that I noticed a mushroom and took a picture,” he explains. Fungi quickly became one of his favorite subjects to photograph. “I found fungi completely captivating. They seem like alien life forms to me, with a strange beauty all their own.”
Continuing to contribute photos to Commons is important for Phillips. “I like the idea of being able to permanently record something, which might otherwise have been ignored, and which could be useful to others. I like the idea of the pictures having a life of their own, being used in ways you didn’t expect.” His largest contribution to Commons came as a result of a trip to Swansea, Wales. On his trip he noticed the vast number of public sculptures throughout the city and searched Wikipedia to see if there was any information about them available to the public. “When I saw there wasn’t, I began taking photos with the idea of starting a list of Public Art for Swansea, similar to the ones I had seen for the London boroughs.” Phillips created the list and has contributed over 50 photos (almost the entire list) and has since returned to Swansea several times to take more photos.
He looks forward to continuing to contribute and is excited his fungi picture has received such positive recognition. “I am happy that so many people appreciate it,” he said. “This photo could so easily have stayed in my own collection, seen by only me and a few others.”
(See more of Phillips’ photos on his user page)
Alice Roberts, Communications Intern